Dog Vaccinations: All You Need To Know

dog vaccinations

Vaccination prevents many diseases. Similar to the way humans need vaccination, canines also need them on a timely schedule. This helps in the prevention of many illnesses from affecting your pet. Vaccination is the most reliable and easiest solution for ensuring a healthy and long life. It eliminates the risk of your pet coming in contact with the life-threatening diseases.

Vaccinations for dogs work by essentially infecting your animal with a little bit of a pathogen (the pathogen may not exactly be in the active form; it may be an altered form or a very close relative). Your pet will then form an immune response against this pathogen that will provide lifelong protection against that particular disease-causing agent. In many countries, it has become mandatory to give rabies vaccine to your pet without fail.

Why Are Dog Vaccinations Necessary?

A very common question that comes to our mind is- Why are dog vaccines necessary? So, in this context, we have cleared the air stating why it is necessary. Rabies vaccine for dogs is a vaccine that must be provided to the pet as stated by the law. Unless your animal is sickly and can get a waiver. Without it, if he bites someone, he is likely to get quarantined. Even if he is a 15-year-old poodle.

Necessity depends on your lifestyle. A puppy should get three distemper shots. Then, you can forget about it if your dog never leaves the house except to eliminate somewhere in your fenced yard and never goes to dog parks. Dogs catch diseases faster from other dogs, and it is scientifically proved as well. If you live in a woody area or go into woody areas with your dog where ticks are common, then get Lyme vaccination. Also, try to buy Frontline or revolution medicines that can kill ticks and fleas. Lyme disease can lead to severe consequences and can even kill your pet dog.

dog vaccinations

Most people also skip Leptospirosis and Bordetella vaccines unless their dog takes a lot of walks or interacts with a lot of other dogs in dog parks and other crowded areas. Bordetella is pretty useless not just for a homebound dog, but even for an active dog in the sense that it does not always protect the canines.

What is most important is that monthly heartworm pills or bi-yearly heartworm shots are necessary. That is a nasty disease which most of the mosquitos carry and can lead to severe health consequences for your pet dog.

Your average pet doctor will try to push all the vaccines on the same day. While the unethical vet will give the vaccines on the same day, in the same spot on the body or on the back of the neck. They should be given in specific industry mandated areas in case of a reaction to document. This can help you to avoid it in the future and in case of a sarcoma when your dog might need an amputation.

Types Of Dog Vaccines

There are two types of vaccines namely:- core vaccines and non-core vaccines. Core vaccines are those vaccines that need to be given necessarily whereas non-core vaccines are not urgent. However, it will be better for you to provide your pet with non-core vaccines as well.

Core vaccines include:

  • Canine Parvovirus
  • Canine Distemper
  • Hepatitis
  • Rabies vaccine for dogs

The spectrum of non-core vaccines includes:

  •  Bordetella
  •  Canine Influenza (dog flu)
  •  Leptospirosis
  •  Lyme vaccine 

While these vaccines may not be considered as important as the core vaccines, it does not imply that they are not essential. They are very necessary to those dogs who are getting regular exposures to infectious diseases.

dog vaccinationsMake a note that not every puppy demands vaccination against each and every disease. The vet will administer the vaccines after examining the dog and depending on the following factors:

  • Age
  • Medical history
  • Environment
  • Travel habits
  • Lifestyle 

Puppy Vaccination Schedule

The vaccination schedule for your puppy is one of the most crucial steps in assuring that the puppy will have a healthy and happy puppy-hood. Always consult with a professional veterinarian to determine which vaccines are appropriate for your puppy. To better understand vaccines, it is very important to understand how the puppy is protected from dangerous disease.

dog vaccinationsSix weeks– This is the first set of dog vaccinations. Do not forget to make use of this vaccine of your puppy. This vaccination should take place in front of their breeder at about six weeks of age or maybe seven at most.

Eleven weeks– This is the second set of dog shots. This set will take place within two to three weeks following the first set. Be careful that you will not let the second set to go past the nine-week target.

Fourteen weeks– This is the third set of your dog vaccinations. The duration of this vaccine extends to almost 12 weeks. At this point, your vet may want to add new vaccines for fighting various diseases like leptospirosis or Lyme disease.

Sixteen weeks– This is the fourth set of dog shots. This set is mainly for rabies vaccination. Finally, at four months of age, your puppy will be given their final DHPP shot.

Understanding The Need For Vaccinations Of Dogs

We have divided this section into two parts defining core vaccinations and non-core vaccinations.

Core Vaccine Diseases

Have a look at the different diseases that need core vaccines:

1. Rabies


Rabies vaccine is most important for your protection and that of the dog, especially if you live in areas that have a lot of rabies incidents, or if there are bats. Their bites many times are too small to notice even on people. A dog would be very likely to play with a downed bat. Even if the dog is kept indoors, it is wise to have it vaccinated for rabies in case it was to bite or scratch someone, or just in case it was to get out. Rabies is virtually 100% fatal for any mammal that gets it, and it is a terrible death.

dog vaccinations

Generally, a puppy will receive its first rabies vaccine between 12 and 16 weeks of age. Additionally, a dog whether puppy or adult which has no known history of having been vaccinated against rabies will also require a one-year vaccine. Then, depending on the state or local laws, this can easily be researched. It will be required to repeat the rabies vaccine either yearly, or up to a gap of every three years. However, there are a few exceptions:

1) If a dog has been exposed to or bitten by a potentially or definitively diagnosed rabid animal, the dog should immediately receive a booster, regardless if it has received one within the past three years. Rabies is fatal AND zoonotic or transmissible to humans, so do not mess around with this.

2) Some dogs may be exempted from receiving a rabies booster. If they have a previous serious allergic response to the vaccine or have a history of the immune-mediated disease, avoid this vaccine. Your vet can offer you the proof of the reason for exemption.

Finally, note that despite having a thorough vaccination history, certain countries and states will still require a period of quarantine for your dog if you move there. This is because the countries are rabies-free and want to stay that way. Lastly, to add that prior to stringent rabies vaccination protocols for your pets, dogs and cats were considered one of the reservoirs for the rabies virus in few countries. Now, the major reservoirs are wild animals such as skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes. So, overall cases of rabid dogs have fallen to almost non-existent.

2. Parvovirus


This is a transmittable disease that spreads through the feces of another canine with the same disease. Parvovirus is 90% fatal without vaccination, attacking the digestive and immune systems. Your dog can come in contact with these viruses in the parks, show grounds, nature strips, and kennels. So, direct contact with other dogs is not necessary for this virus to spread. The symptoms of the Parvovirus disease are:

  • Excessive vomiting
  • Diarrhea containing blood
  • High fever
  • Severe abdominal pain 

The disease is very dangerous, and hence, there is a high risk that your dog may die in a few days if not treated properly. Give the necessary vaccine to your dog as it will aid in preventing the spread of the infection. Once Parvovirus infects your dog, then you have no way other than putting it in intensive care at a vet hospital.

3. Hepatitis


The reason for this disease is canine Adenovirus. Once again, this disease is very infectious and transmits through direct contact with another infected dog. The medium for the transmission of such a disease is body fluids like urine and nasal discharge. Furthermore, if your dog shares a cage or bowl with other dogs, then they are likely to get the disease as well. It has also come to notice that human clothes and boots are responsible for the transmission of Hepatitis.
The disease is very dangerous and the fact which proves this is that even after the dog recovers from the disease, it still has the ability to continue spreading the virus for almost six months. The disease can be very fatal for small puppies though. The symptoms of this disease include:

  • Fever
  • Severe pain due to inflammation of the liver
  • Abdominal infection
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • A notable loss of appetite
  • Coughing

Intravenous fluids and extreme care are the only solutions for treating a dog having this disease. Therefore, give your puppy vaccines beforehand and prevent this disease.

4. Distemper


Canine distemper is not a widespread virus anymore. The credit goes to its highly effective vaccines. The disease transmits through the air, generally, by means of sneezing and coughing. It does not stop here; the disease can also transmit through the sharing of dishes, equipment or can be passed through the mother dog to her child. This virus infection affects the spinal cord, respiratory tract, and brain. A whopping 50% of dogs who come in contact with this disease die. The symptoms of this disease include:

dog vaccinations

  • High fever
  • Reddened eyes
  • Watery discharge from nose and eyes
  • Tiredness
  • Loss in appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing
  • Diarrhea 

Vaccination is the best cure and prevention for this disease. There is no other particular treatment for this virus though.

Non-Core Vaccine Diseases:

Have a look at the following diseases against which you must get your dogs vaccinated:


1. Leptospirosis


The bacteria causing this disease are found anywhere in water, soil and primarily in the areas with a warm climate, annual rainfall, and swampy conditions. Leptospirosis is a very critical disease. If your dog walks or sniff outside, plays in puddles, grass, touches trees, wet concrete etc., then they can contract this disease. Leptospirosis is transmitted by rodent mammals’ urine, urine-contaminated soil, water, food, etc. and can be very deadly. Furthermore, mice, rats, raccoons, and possums all carry this bacteria. Even we as humans can get it if we somehow come in contact with infected urine or other fluids. Leptospirosis can cause organ failure, and the dogs can suffer painfully from it.

The symptoms of this disease include:

  • Lethargy, reluctance to move, muscle tenderness
  • Continuous shivering
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Changes in frequency and amount of urination
  • Usually associated with a fever
  • Yellow gums 

Hence, vaccination in proper time is necessary to prevent this disease from spreading. However, if your dogs somehow get infected with this disease, then apply antibiotics as early as possible.

2. Canine Influenza


This disease affects the respiratory tract of the dog but is mild and self-limiting. The disease spreads through nasal secretion of the infected dog and coughs. Also, this disease can pave the way for other infections and respiratory problems. The symptoms of this viral disease are as follows:

  • A dry cough
  • Fever
  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • A runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Pneumonia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Inflammation of the eyes
  • Runny eyes
  • Conjunctivitis 

The vaccination for this includes DHPP shots. Catch up with a good vet and allow him to administer the dosage accordingly.

3. Bordetella


Similar to Influenza, Bordetella is also spread through air-borne contaminants. The bacteria destroys the inner portion of the trachea as it multiplies. The symptoms of this disease include:

dog vaccinations

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression 

The dog must be provided with antibiotics and cough medicines in order to treat this bacterial disease. If you do not apply the proper treatment on time, then it can lead to pneumonia. It can take 48 hours before your pet becomes entirely immune to this disease.

4. Lyme Disease

Ticks are responsible for this particular disease. The symptom of this disease is very difficult to find and mostly includes swollen lymph nodes or lameness. Hence, do not leave the disease untreated as it can result in inflammation of the nervous system, heart, and kidney. Sometimes, it may lead to severe consequences like death. Doxycycline is the best medicine that the vets prescribe for such a disease. Moreover, the vaccines for this disease depend on the location and surroundings where the pets live. Two doses of vaccine for Lyme disease are given to the dog after which the booster doses follow.

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